The Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act is a powerful state law enacted in 1995 that places limits on rent control.
Buildings Built After 1995 Are Excluded
Costa Hawkins established that residential buildings with a certificate of occupancy issued after February 1, 1995 could not be protected by rent control. This means that all “new” construction is automatically excluded from rent control protections with some limited exceptions.
Single Family Homes, Condominiums Excluded From Rent Control
In addition to excluding new construction from rent control, Costa Hawkins also created exclusions for single family homes and condominiums. Tenants already living in these units as of passage of the ordinance continue to have rent control however. There are also exceptions for units converted to condos.
Original Occupants and Vacancy De-Control
Costa Hawkins allow landlords to raise the rent on an otherwise rent controlled unit to market rate when the “last original occupant” no longer lives in the unit.
Original occupants are those that took possession of a unit with the express consent of the landlord at the time that the base rent for the unit was first established with respect to the vacant unit. The original occupant doesn’t have to be named on the lease but must be able to show they moved in at the same time as the named person on the lease. A “Subsequent occupant” means an individual who became an occupant of a rental unit while the rental unit was occupied by at least one original occupant.
Costa Hawkins Rent Increase Notices
If you’re a tenant who’s received notice of this type of petition, it’s not a lost cause. Depending on your relationship with the landlord, the length of your tenancy, and other factors, you may still have a right to rent control. A tenant’s attorney can advise you on the validity of the landlord’s petition, and possibly represent you at the Rent Board.
I retained Jason for two landlord tenant issues. First was a Costa Hawkins case in which my landlord was claiming I was not an original occupant and attempted to more than double my rent and secondly later for a habitability issues lawsuit. Both instances were rather complicated and turned out in my favor. Throughout both cases Jason demonstrated knowledge of the law, was prepared for my hearings and was easy to communicate with. He was strategic and knew how to best represent and defend me in my cases.
I would highly recommend Mr. Wolford for any sort of landlord tenant issue, he is very knowledgeable in tenant rights also volunteering at the tenant Union and will work diligently to win your case. I felt Jason was also honest and upfront in pricing no hidden fees and took my case on a contingency basis which was helpful. His experience and knowledge in defending tenants was evident and the success of both my cases proved that he has walked the path and has an effective strategy that works. If I had to, I would without a doubt hire him again. Thank you for all your time and efforts Jason!
This is my second time working with and reviewing Daniel and he has been a tremendous help dealing with a difficult landlord for over 3 years. My first experience was to fight an illegal rent increase via the Rent Board and he not only helped me win that case (and the subsequent appeal) but he kept me calm through the ordeal. That was just the beginning. I ended up getting involved in a much more complicated matter and he again helped me through the whole situation and kept me informed and at ease throughout the 2 year ordeal.
He's a great advocate for tenant's rights and is very good at what he does. I absolutely would recommend Daniel to anyone needing legal help in the Bay Area dealing with tenant's issues.
Faced with a 60-day notice of a 70% rent increase (that's right - seven zero!) and knowing very little about tenancy laws in SF, Daniel came to the rescue. Prior to seeking out Daniel, we (my roommates and I) were bullied by the landlord's lawyer into accepting the rent increase. We didn't know what our rights were or if the rent increase was lawful in the first place. The SF Rent Board holds drop-in office hours, so we initially went there seeking advice. They looked at our documentation and made an initial assessment that the rent increase was potentially unlawful. However, we needed to file a petition, which would kick off an official hearing between the landlord and us. We could have represented ourselves without an attorney, but not having our own attorney was very risky - so we lawyered up and hired Daniel.
I can't stress how important it is to have attorney representation at a rent board hearing - and Daniel was extraordinary. Daniel was extremely experienced, de-mystifying the entire experience and explaining everything in a clear and concise manner over email and in person. He prepped us by having a mock session where he simulated questions from the landlord's attorney. Working with Daniel was seamless. If I had follow-up questions, I didn't hesitate to email or call him. His fee schedule was transparent and the initial estimate was inline with what we actually paid in the end.
During the hearing, he professionally and enthusiastically represented our position. Daniel is very passionate about his work, which was evident throughout the entire process. The panel eventually decided that the rent increase was unlawful. WE WON! We could have kept the rent as is, but we wanted improvements and upgrades to the apartment. With Daniel's help negotiating, we got new appliances, fixtures, and a gate - all for a slight increase in rent, but on our terms. We were extremely satisfied with the outcome and our experience with Daniel.
Thanks Daniel for helping us out tremendously!